TOWSON, Md. – The 2016-17 season marks the 10-year anniversary for the Landmark Conference. As part of the buildup to each sport's championship season, fans were asked to select their favorite moment from the first decade from a list created by members of the conference. Each winning moment will be announced prior to the conference championship.
After the final round of voting for the top men's lacrosse moment, The University of Scranton winning its first Landmark Conference championship received 57 percent of the votes to win the top moment.
The Royals beat the conference's top two teams on consecutive weekends — one at home in overtime and the other on the road — to reach the playoffs, then opened tournament play with a 12-9 victory over Catholic at Fitzpatrick Field.
Scranton culminated its late-season surge by defeating defending champion Goucher, 12-8, to claim its first Landmark title and advance to the NCAA Division III championships for the first time in the program's 25-year history. It was also Scranton's second conference title and first since winning the Hudson League championship in 1995.
The unlikely hero turned out to be junior attackman Daniel Slade, who scored a career-high five goals and finished with an assist as Scranton won its fourth straight game to improve to 9-7.
The Royals also received two goals and two assists from sophomore attackman Taylor Nelson, a goal and an assist apiece from senior midfielder Keenan Dowd and senior attacker Sean Coleman, and a goal each from junior midfielder Mike Rufo, junior attackman Kevin Brier, and senior attackman Robert Pantages.
It was expected to be a nip-and-tuck affair since five of the previous six meetings between the two teams were decided by one goal, including two games that went into overtime and another that was decided in double overtime.
Instead, Slade keyed two scoring runs that kept the Gophers on their heels throughout the afternoon.
He scored twice during a 5-0 spurt that erased an early 2-1 deficit and propelled Scranton to a 6-3 lead by intermission. Late in the third period, he tallied three goals to spark a 4-0 rally over a 13-minute span that stretched a 7-5 advantage into a comfortable 11-6 lead with 6:25 remaining.
Like he has all season long, junior midfielder Patrick Cefalu dominated the faceoffs, winning 14 of 23 attempts, including all seven in the first period and 9 of 13 by intermission.
Then there was junior goalkeeper Ben Worthington, who, in just his third start of the season, made a career-high 17 saves, including eight in the first half as Scranton established control of the game.
Defensively, senior Stephen Buestle, junior John McShea, sophomore Tim Cleary and freshman Ryan Saraceni held the Gophers to two goals under their season average and their third-lowest goal output of the season. Scranton also won the battle of the ground balls, holding a 40-33 advantage.